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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Why Jameis Winston is fading from best-young QB conversation

Roy Cummings

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA – Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has produced some absolutely eye-popping numbers during his first two-plus years in the NFL, and indeed most of them are the kind any quarterback would be proud of.

Winston, for example, was the first quarterback ever to throw for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons and his 50 touchdown passes over that span were the fifth most by a young quarterback.

At the same time, Winston has produced at least one stat that no quarterback can be proud of because it’s the kind that quarterbacks, coaches, teammates and fans can only wince at when they see it.

Through 41 career starts, Winston has turned the ball over 50 times, including 39 times via interceptions and 11 times via fumbles like the one he lost Sunday during the Bucs 26-20 loss to the Packers in Green Bay.

That is an unconscionable number and if you’re wondering why Winston has suddenly begun to fade from the conversation regarding the game’s best young quarterbacks, well wonder no more.

That stat alone tells you that for all the ways in which Winston can win a game for you, there are two ways in which he can and far too often loses games for you, and it happened again on Sunday.

On a first-and-10 play from the Packers 30-yard line, which means the Bucs were already in position to tie a game in which they were trailing 10-7 midway through the second quarter, Winston got greedy.

As he is wont to do and sometimes does rather well, Winston tried to keep a dying play alive when the better option would have been to let the play die out and live for another down.

Instead, while he was being taken down by nose tackle Kenny Clark, Winston tried to throw a pass (he says) to tight end Cameron Brate, who was nowhere in the vicinity at the time.

Who was in the vicinity was defensive lineman Dean Lowry, who grabbed Winston’s attempted throw out of mid air and ran the ball back 62 yards for a highlight reel touchdown.

For Winston, it was just another one of those plays that “he would like to have back,’’ as Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has had to say far too many times the last three years.

“That definitely can be an issue,’’ Koetter said of the downside of Winston’s refusal to quit on plays. “That’s something we’ve talked about many times, because Jameis is going to make some plays (in those situations).

 “And that one there, in a perfect world, he would’ve gotten the ball out of his hands. But they were quick on him, and you’ve got to remember, he’s 23-years old and experience is still the best teacher.’’

 You would think that a coach would be the best teacher but when the coach is hesitant to coach the competiveness out of Winston as the Bucs coaches are, then the lesson has to be learned through experience.

The only problem with that is, Winston does not appear to be learning from experience. Even bad experiences. After all, the play Winston tried to make Sunday was very similar to one he tried to make during a preseason game this year against Jacksonville.

The only difference was that that one occurred inside the red zone and that an official ruled Winton down by contact, thereby negating the interception he threw into the end zone while laying flat on his back.

Koetter gave Winston an earful on that one of course, telling him “You can’t do that ever, ever, ever,’’ to which Winston responded, “I got it.’’ Except it’s clear now that Winston still hasn’t got it.

Winston either hasn’t learned at all from that mistake or he refuses to learn from it because he would rather continue to put his team at risk than change out of his gunslinger persona.

As long as that remains the case, Winston will continue to stunt not only his own growth as a quarterback but the growth of the Buccaneers as a franchise and potential playoff contender.

And if that continues and Winston fails to ever achieve his goal of being a true franchise quarterback for a Super Bowl champions, well, he’ll have only himself to blame.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. CharlieC

    December 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Winston played a good game behind a beat up offensive line. He has set records and his turn overs will improve with experience and age. He had his team ahead with 5 minutes left. The Bucs are in dire need of pass rushers for a decade now. The best years of Gerald Mcoy have been mired with no talent around him. Once the defense improves this team can compete again

  2. Jeffrey

    December 5, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    There is a guy in his 1st 3 seasons who had similar stats. PEYTON MANNING! And another HOF gunslinger named BRETT FARVE! So your article sucks.

  3. Bucko40

    December 5, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Wow Jeffery. Peyton had on Losing season after his rookie year and never made the boneheaded mistakes that Winston continues to make. Garvey is a better comparison but again Favre was able to back up his mistakes. Winston has had 1 4th Qtr comeback thus far. He’s a dump truck and nothing but trash

  4. Jack Haydon

    December 6, 2017 at 8:38 am

    He is making mistakes, and we hear this every week. He will mature, we hope.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers cornerstone player in 2018?

Florida Football Insiders

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

(This is the first look at all three state NFL teams’ roster and identifying a player that we at F.F.I. believe is the foundation starter for their potential success in 2018)

It’s still a couple of weeks before the Buccaneers gather for training camp at One Buc Place and there’s already uncertainty everywhere. Off a disappointing showing down the stretch with a 5-11 finish in 2017, both head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht were already feeling warmth under their seats.

Now, the perceived team leader, QB Jameis Winston, is suspended for the first three games of the season for violation of the NFL personal conduct policy. And, this has called into question whether he Winston is going to be on borrowed time himself, once he comes back.

So, who is the player that the Bucs will look to for leadership, stability and to help them get through tough times this year? Well, it’s not clear cut in Tampa Bay, but we have a strong guess.

If we are talking cornerstone player for 2018, we are talking yearly Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy.

The reasons are apparent.

McCoy has tenure in the Bucs locker room and has played at the high level for the past six seasons (under three different head coaches) and made the Pro Bowl in each one.

Most importantly, he provides a veteran presence to what is an uncertain situation.

And with the additions of former Eagles DE Vinny Curry in free agency, a trade for Giants Pro Bowler and Superbowl champion Jason Pierre Paul and the drafting of Washington All American DT Vita Vea in the first round, McCoy has more help than at any point in his career.

This means the former #1 pick out of Oklahoma will have a chance to excel, especially right away, this season.

Sure, the Bucs have a “franchise receiver” in Mike Evans, and gave him a huge extension in March. And they have one of the top star defenders in the NFL that few on the national level talk much about in LB LaVonte David.

However, with Winston’s future with the Buccaneers uncertain, Gerald McCoy is the guy to count on for this and the next few seasons.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hall of Fame WR Randy mentoring Bucs QB Jameis Winston in Tampa

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Controversy has followed Jameis Winston throughout his college and NFL careers and now, former controversial NFL star receiver turned ESPN analyst Randy Moss, is trying to help.

As you probably know by now, the Bucs QB is suspended for the first three games this season by the NFL for violation of the personal conduct policy after he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016. It’s the latest in a long line of personal missteps and problems that have dogged Winston off the field, since his days at Florida State.

Meanwhile, Moss, who will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, later this month, has been in Tampa recently working with and apparently trying to help mentor Winston.

Tampa TV station, Fox 13 and reporter Kevin O’Donnell, got exclusive comments from Moss on helping Winston on Tuesday:

“He’s doing things right,” Moss told the station.  “It’s a bump in the road…Man, just continue to fight. It happens…. What he did was wrong. You know. I’m not saying right or wrong. There was a woman involved. So, I’m not going to get into all of that. What he did was wrong. He know (sic) it was wrong. So, I think it’s up to him as a man to understand what he did wrong….to live and learn from it and let it go.”

Moss had early controversies and arrests in his own college career, as he was denied entry at Notre Dame and later kicked off the FSU football team while red-shirting for arrests and probation violations that led him to being back behind bars.

He later thrived at Marshall University, was a Heisman Trophy Finalist, a first round pick by the Vikings and had a 14 year career as one of the most explosive NFL receivers of all time. Moss, who caught for 1,000 or more yards in 10 NFL seasons and is second all time with 156 TD receptions, was voted into the Hall of Fame (above) in his first time on the ballot back in January.

Winston was shown by the station running sprints and making throws to some other prospective NFL receivers at the workout Tuesday, but refused to talk on camera. He has not spoken publicly, since the NFL suspended him two weeks ago. He told the station he will talk at Bucs training camp later in July.

As for Moss, he further said Tuesday that he’s trying to give Winston and other young players advice from his own experiences and failures off the field.

“One of the things that I always told my people: ‘Don’t be scared or shy to tell me no, because I check my pride in at the door….I’ll thank you later, you know, when I’m not behind bars, or when I’m still on a football team.” Moss continued, “A lot of these guys don’t realize that they’re being watched under a microscope and they don’t realize it until it happens to them and they’re out of  job.”

At this point, the fourth year Bucs QB Winston, has to realize that he is on the verge of being out of a job in Tampa. That’s if he doesn’t respond well from the suspension by staying out of trouble and performing well on the field.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Bucs DE Jason Pierre Paul still great reminder of July 4th safety

Florida Football Insiders

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers are excited to see what former USF and New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul can do on the field in Tampa Bay this fall. After being acquired in a trade with the G-men in March, Pierre Paul hopes to energize an almost non-existent Bucs pass rush from last year.

One thing is for sure, as much as he’s known for being a star on the field, Pierre Paul has become a reminder of “what not to do” and specifically fireworks safety on July 4th.

It was three years ago Wednesday night that Pierre Paul’s decision to celebrate and ignite amateur hand-held fireworks in South Florida led to a horrific and potentially, career threatening right hand injury.

But, out of what could have been football tragedy involving his  hand, Pierre-Paul has made a comeback and is now a national PSA symbol for firework safety.

The beginning of Pierre Paul’s football story is the Deerfield Beach, as a native of Hatian immigrant parents playing  as a Juco star in both California and Kansas. Then, he was brought back to Florida, by coach Jim Leavitt and staff, as USF’s dominant pass rusher in 2009. That year he attained All Big East honors with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss for the Bulls.

This fast tracked Pierre Paul to the NFL after only one season in Tampa and he was drafted 15th overall by the Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.

After a rookie year with 4.5 sacks, he burst on the pro scene in season two with 16.5 sacks for the G-men leading to a Pro Bowl selection and was part of the New York Superbowl victory over the Patriots that February.

Pierre-Paul continued to be regarded as the Giants most consistent pass rushing threat and had another double digit sack season with 12.5 in 2014.

Then came the off season of 2015, where he chose not to sign his one year Franchise Player free agent tender (the Giants still had his exclusive rights) seeking a longer term deal. And, he remained unsigned as of July 4th that year.

That night in 2015 he loaded up a van with handheld amateur fireworks and with friends and neighbors began shooting them off until one obviously malfunctioned and mangled his right hand. Pierre-Paul was hospitalized and eventually had multiple surgeries on the hand and his right index finger amputated.

The Giants stood by him, when they could have dumped him for non-football injury, and he eventually made his way back onto the field in November of 2015. Signing a “pro rated” week to week one year deal, his debut came as New York traveled to Raymond James Stadium (Pierre-Paul’s USF home for a season) and he played with a padded “club” protecting his right hand against the Bucs.

He would play in eight total games that season with one sack and then, as further proof of the Giants being in his corner, they re-signed him on a one year $10 million deal for 2016. Pierre-Paul then worked a year ago with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on a July 4th fireworks safety video:

The gnarly image and video of Pierre-Pauls right hand is obviously the deterrent the agency is looking for with the PSA campaign about safety. He played 2016 with a special padded glove to protect the hand/fingers registering another seven sacks before being placed on I.R. with a sports hernia.

Finally, and happiest of all financial endings after the fireworks disaster, Pierre-Paul inked a four year $62 million deal with $40 million guaranteed in March of last year to stay, so he thought, in New York.

Alas, the Giants had a nightmare of a 2017 season that finished at 3-13. Pierre-Paul had a solid season with 8.5 sacks and 68 total tackles despite the dismal team finish.
Then, Bucs GM Jason Licht swung the deal for Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay agreed to assume his $12.1 million dollar salary for 2018.

So, while it all worked out in the end, obviously, the Jason Pierre-Paul July 4th fireworks mess could have had a much different ending all the way around for he, the Giants and now, the Bucs.

It’s a reminder to stay safe Wednesday night. Leave the handheld fireworks to someone else.

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